PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The Mets acknowledged their latest injury Tuesday morning with a thick black line through Ruben Tejada's name on the lineup card.
Officially, the shortstop is day-to-day with a mild left groin strain, though his timing could not have been worse. As one of 15 players to miss time due to injury out of the 55 in big league camp, Tejada became the subject of his manager's frustrations when Terry Collins interrupted his walk through the clubhouse to deliver a rant on the state of the team.
"It's not serious," Collins said of Tejada's injury, standing within earshot of several players and reporters. "It doesn't have to be here. You need an aspirin, you're off for a day."
Collins later clarified that he was not mad at Tejada, simply frustrated with the mounting injuries in camp. Tuesday brought three more -- Tejada's groin strain, a twisted ankle for reliever D.J. Carrasco and tendinitis in both knees for Tejada's backup, Ronny Cedeno.
"We've got three weeks from Wednesday," Collins said in reference to Opening Day, again within earshot of a crowd. "We've got a lot of time. I'm just getting tired of going in the training room, where I've got to sweat to see who can walk out of there."
|1B Ike Davis||Valley Fever diagnosis||Monitoring situation but proceeding as if healthy|
|2B Reese Havens||Lower back soreness||No timetable for return|
|3B David Wright||Left rib cage tightness||Hopes to begin baseball activities this weekend|
|3B Zach Lutz||Left elbow soreness||Returned to lineup 3/9|
|SS Ruben Tejada||Left groin strain||Day-to-day|
|SS Ronny Cedeno||Tendinitis in both knees||Day-to-day|
|OF Lucas Duda||Lower back stiffness||Returned to lineup 3/12|
|OF Andres Torres||Right glute tightness||Returned to lineup 3/11|
|OF Scott Hairston||Left oblique strain||Has not begun baseball activities, no timetable|
|OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis||Right oblique strain||Day-to-day|
|RHP Pedro Beato||Right rotator cuff inflammation||Scheduled to throw off flat ground Wednesday|
|RHP D.J. Carrasco||Twisted right ankle||Day-to-day|
|LHP Tim Byrdak||Left knee meniscus tear||Underwent surgery Tuesday, six-week recovery|
|LHP Daniel Herrera||Lower back tightness||Day-to-day|
|LHP Robert Carson||Right oblique strain||Returned to bullpen 3/11|
A somewhat cooler Collins addressed the situation after Tuesday's game, actually lauding third-base coach Tim Teufel for removing Tejada from the practice field after he felt a pull in his groin.
"I'm not mad at Ruben," the manager said. "I'm not mad at anybody. I'm allowed to be frustrated. This is a team I'm trying to get ready to win. I'm sitting here in front of you telling you how we're going to compete. But I'm going to tell you what: we aren't going to compete if we don't have our players on the field, so we've got to get them ready."
"I felt a little bit tight so I had to take care of that," Tejada said. "I stopped right away."
Quickly, injuries have turned into a significant problem for a Mets team that has suffered more than its fair share of them since 2009. The past three seasons have all been marred by maladies for the Mets, who showed up to Florida worried mostly about the statuses of Johan Santana and Ike Davis.
To date, those two have been mostly fine, save for a Valley Fever diagnosis that has not outwardly affected Davis. But others in camp have not been so lucky.
The spring's most significant injury news broke Monday morning, when the Mets announced not only that reliever Tim Byrdak would need surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee, but also that third baseman David Wright requested a cortisone shot in the left side of his rib cage. Byrdak underwent the operation Tuesday and will miss six weeks; Wright received his injection and hopes to begin baseball activities by this weekend.
A day earlier, Collins sat in his office and tried to reason why seven players in camp had suffered some sort of core injury, ranging from the mild (Lucas Duda's lower back stiffness) to the severe (Scott Hairston's left oblique strain). After floating various theories of his own, Collins met Tuesday with strength and conditioning coordinator Brad Andress to try to determine the root cause.
"I talked about patience," Collins said. "Right now, I'm out of it."
Mostly, Collins is upset by the fact that his players have had little opportunity to work together as a unit. One of the manager's goals for the Grapefruit League season, for example, was to pair Tejada with second baseman Daniel Murphy as frequently as he could, trying to grow them accustomed to one another. Tejada's injury has now prevented that from happening. Wright, meanwhile, has yet to appear in a game and is not particularly close to doing so.
The fact that Opening Day is still more than three weeks away was a key theme that Collins kept revisiting. But that did not prevent the manager from voicing his frustrations halfway through an imperfect camp.
"It throws off the whole scheme of what you had set for Spring Training," Collins said. "We will never ask anybody to suck it up in Spring Training. That's not the purpose of Spring Training. The purpose of Spring Training is to get out there and get the work done. My issue is when you're banged up, you can't go get the work done. That's the issue. Now during the season, they'll suck it up. There's no doubt in my mind.
"They play above and beyond when the season starts. But when you're trying to prepare for the season and you can't do the fundamental things to get ready, that becomes an issue."